by Tiffany Lashmet for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Here are some of the biggest ag law stories in the news over the past couple of weeks.
*Potential tax policy changes cause concern. President Biden’s administration has indicated there may be policy changes related to capital gains taxes that have caused concern for many agricultural groups. In particular, President Biden’s American Families Plan asks Congress to increase the capital gains tax rate and do away with the step up in basis currently available. There has also been concern over the potential imposition of capital gains tax at death for any unrealized gains. President Biden has stated there will be exceptions for family farms and ranches from at least some of these changes. There have been leaders on both sides of the aisle sending a letter to Congressional leadership expressing concerns over the impact changes would have on family farms and local economies, along with a similar letter from numerous Republican Senators expressing similar concerns. To read more discussion on this topic, click here and here and here. [Note: I am not expressing approval or denial of any positions in these articles–merely providing a sample of the various discussions currently happening.]
*Farm Animal Liability Act bill passed by Texas Legislature. HB 365, which will modify the Texas Farm Animal Liability Act to ensure applicability to working ranches, expand the definition of “farm animal” to include managed honey bees, and ensure protection if employees or independent contractors are injured has passed both Houses as of this week. [Read prior blog post here.] The bill will now be sent to Governor Abbott.
*Political consultant to Texas Ag Commissioner arrested on charges related to hemp licenses. A political consultant to Sid Miller was recently arrested on allegations that he was part of a scheme to solicit cash from people in exchange for guaranteeing them hemp production licenses in Texas. The consultant, Todd Smith, was charged with third-degree felony theft. His attorneys have issued a statement denying any wrongdoing. [Read article here.] If you want information on how to legally obtain a hemp production license in Texas, we’ve got a video series that covers that exact topic! Click here for more information.
*EPA plans to hold public meetings on WOTUS definition this summer and fall. The EPA announced it will conduct public information gathering sessions later this year to seek input from the public as it revisits the proper definition of “waters of the United States” pursuant to the Clean Water Act. [Read article here.]
* Ag lawyers offer best practices for livestock producers to avoid litigation. My friend Brianna Schroeder from Indiana and Michelle Pardo, an attorney in Washington, DC, recently offered tips to livestock producers to help avoid potential litigation. This included understanding state trespass, nuisance, and Right to Farm laws, as well as having animal care and handling policies and training procedures in place that are actively followed. [Read article here.]
Next week, I’ll be joining the ag law crew here in Texas to tune into the John Huffaker Ag Law CLE Course. Usually we meet in Lubbock, and seeking everyone is a highlight of my year. We’re sad to be virtual this year, but I know there will be lots of great info at this program. If you’re a Texas attorney interested in ag law and need some quality CLE hours, check it out!